West Virginia-Texas Tech Preview
West Virginia needed one of Juwan Staten’s best performances to pull out a victory in its most recent trip to Texas Tech.
The 14th-ranked Mountaineers, however, might not have Staten – one of the Big 12’s leading scorers – available for Monday night’s visit to Lubbock as they go for their best start in 33 seasons.
West Virginia (13-1, 1-0) survived its first game without Staten on Saturday, winning 78-67 at formerly unbeaten TCU. Gary Browne made up for his ill teammate’s absence with a season-high 16 points, all in the final 11 minutes.
"We scrimmaged Ohio State without (Staten in October), and we were fine," coach Bob Huggins said. "Obviously, he is a big part of what we do but he couldn’t have done any better than Gary did when we spread it. Gary was terrific when we spread it."
The Mountaineers, though, likely would not have come away with an 89-86 overtime win at Texas Tech on Jan. 6 without Staten’s 25 points. He’s among the conference leaders and tops West Virgina with 16.1 points and 4.2 assists per game.
The Mountaineers are hoping to have the Big 12 preseason player of the year available as the try for their first 14-1 start since winning 24 of 25 to begin 1981-82.
They’ll face a Red Raiders team that’s dropped three of four. Texas Tech suffered its first loss in 11 home contests this season Saturday, 70-61 to No. 10 Texas as it failed to complete a rally from 20 down with 5:49 left.
The Red Raiders (10-4, 0-1) didn’t help their cause by converting a season-low 50.0 percent of their 26 free throws and having another poor showing from 3-point range, going 4 for 19. They’ve shot 18.2 percent from beyond the arc in their last four games, beginning with an 0-for-21 performance in a 62-44 loss to Loyola of Chicago on Dec. 22.
"I thought as a team we all have to play a little better. We all tried to come together and played as hard as we possible could. We just have to learn from our mistakes and capitalize them," said reserve center Isaiah Manderson, who scored 12 points and was the only Texas Tech player in double figures.
Red Raiders leading scorer Devaugntah Williams was held to three points on 1-of-4 shooting. The junior guard, the team’s only player averaging in double figures at 11.0 points, scored a combined 35 in his previous two games.
Texas Tech has one of the lowest scoring averages in the Big 12 at 68.4 points while West Virginia has one of the highest at 78.9.
The Mountaineers shot 54.8 percent and made 48.7 percent of their 3-pointers in last season’s two-game sweep of the Red Raiders. West Virginia has won five of six all-time meetings with all but one matchup decided by six or fewer points.